Chants of “one people, one nation, end immigration” were heard loud and clear during the Charlottesville white supremacy march this past weekend. These anti-immigrant chants are more than dangerous words – they are the sentiment powering the threat to hundreds of thousands of young immigrants.
DACA has made it possible for 800,000 young people to work legally in the U.S. It has made them feel safer in a country they consider home by protecting them from deportation.
CREDIT: Julissa Arce
That’s all DACA is. It’s not amnesty, it’s not a path to citizenship; it’s a work permit and protection from deportation.
Like me, many of these young people came to the U.S. as children and have thrived despite the many obstacles they have faced. I came to the U.S from Mexico with a tourist visa when I was 11 years old to be reunited with my parents.
I found out I was undocumented after I bugged my mom about having my quinceañera in Mexico. She revealed that my visa had expired and I could no longer travel outside of the U.S. I was crushed thinking I would never be able to go to college, work or achieve the American dream.
But Texas gave me the opportunity of a lifetime in 2001 when it became the first state in the U.S to allow undocumented students to attend college and pay in-state tuition. But now, my home state of Texas is threatening to take away the opportunity of the American Dream for DACA recipients. Texas attorney general Ken Paxton is calling on other states to demand the Trump administration to terminate the DACA program by September 5th.
We cannot allow the lives of these young Americans to be threatened, and the chants of white supremacists to thrive. DACA has changed the lives of many of these young people; in the same way Texas changed my life in 2001.
CREDIT: Julissa Arce
DACA has given recipients the opportunity to go to college, obtain better paying jobs, buy cars and even homes. I went on to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with honors and became a vice-president at Goldman Sachs. I never had a quinceañera but I was able to have a double-quince in Japan.
DACA is not only good for the immigrant community, it is good for America. Ending DACA would reduce our GDP by $433 billion over the next decade and cost employers $3.4 billion in costs associated with the termination and replacement of employees. Without DACA, tax revenue would be seriously impacted. Over the next decade, $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare contributions would be lost.
The anti-immigrant chants of “you will not replace us, end immigration,” are in direct opposition to the words of the judge who presided over my naturalization ceremony in August of 2008. He said, “becoming an American Citizen means accepting the world as your nation.”
Today marks the fifth anniversary of DACA, and more than ever we need to drown the chants and the threats, and protect the lives of the 800,000 people who have called America home since they were children.